My Take on No Substitutions! No Exceptions! NO SERVICE

This article popped up last year and now it is making the rounds again in one of the newsletters I subscribe to, I remember reading it when it first came out and going oy vay!

While I completely agree with a lot of her article, I did have an issue with what apparently sparked it

“At a national chain restaurant, known for its fabulous pizzas and salads, two of us wanted to share a salad and order two bowls of soup. The salads were extra large so we thought that was a good way to get a taste of both. When the waitress brought the salads, she brought an extra plate. We were a bit surprised since we had told her we wanted to split the salad and had hoped she would do that back in the kitchen. We asked her if she could take it back and do that in the kitchen so it would be less messy and since they had the counter space. Her response was ‘no’, that doing so was against management policy and there were ‘no exceptions.’ We were aghast. Something so simple and so easy to do to help us enjoy our meal was out of the question. Instead, she brought us extra utensils and we awkwardly sloshed the salad around until we successfully moved the appropriate ingredients from one plate to another, leaving lost leaves and dressing on the table. The extra time and aggravation it took us to do this simple task left us with a very bad taste for this restaurant.

Somehow, management had determined that the server staff needed to focus on efficiency and speed even if it meant sacrificing service. They had actually established rules to guide their team in saying ‘NO’ to guests. Their rule of ‘no exceptions’ led to less than exceptional service.”

I do agree that NO has a negative connotation and should be worded differently to make it less negative, but what surprises me is a hospitality consultant wrote this. She did not mention whether the server was rude or friendly but if we take that out of consideration, let me address some points:

“We were a bit surprised since we had told her we wanted to split the salad and had hoped she would do that back in the kitchen.” They hoped that she would do that back in the kitchen. Apparently they thought the waitperson was telepathic and would not be one of those very easily offended people, that if you did split a dish for them, gets upset because he wanted less then she did, and they got equal amounts, or that the term “share” a dish means to share from the same plate, even if you disregard the fact that company policy was made a certain way for a reason. i.e. reasons 1 and 2 above which I am sure were evaluated. Obviously they didn’t request the separate plates originally (key the word hope here) because the issue would have come up prior to them being served their salad.

Many places have looked at this issue and charge an extra plate cost for splitting a dish because its more time consuming for both the back of the house and the front of the house, especially if it’s a no tray environment.

To also ask a waitperson to take a dish back so she could split it, I consider kind of insensitive on her part. 10-1 odds are if she had taken the dish back to the kitchen, she would have been yelled at by both the chef and the manager and would be asked “why” she is doing this.

And was the restaurant busy and did the waitperson have 12 other tables all needing attention? That’s ok, let the other patrons suffer because someone assumed something?

She bears the brunt of someone who “has a consulting training company” but apparently seems rather clueless about the actual operations of things.

I very much agree that customer service is paramount and making customers happy is key, but as someone that says they work in the industry, instead of griping about the poor waitperson only doing their job, perhaps they should have spoken with the manager instead who would have explained to them “why” this rule exists in this restaurant. Sometimes the customers are not always right.

Rules are generally made for reasons, take in to consideration, a national chain restaurant generally caters to the family segment. Picture a family of 10, everyone wants to split dishes= more work/time/labor/overhead for waitperson/cooks/dishwashers. To bend the rules for one person leaves a restaurant open to having to bend the rules for everyone and then what good are the rules.

Picture the family of 10 sitting next to the 2 ladies. Look honey, they got their salad split for them how come ours isn’t?



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One Response to My Take on No Substitutions! No Exceptions! NO SERVICE

  1. Innkeeper says:

    In order to be taken somewhat seriously, you have to had at least spent some time working in the environment that you write about – obviously she has not – for two reasons

    1 – if you eat at a national chain restaurant -you know what your going to get – good or bad it is what it is – get over it.

    2 – Policies are put in place for operational reasons, not to annoy customers – your last sentence is perfect.

    Bottom line – it’s people like this that tarnish the consulting business – and yes you are right in calling her Clueless.

    This is why I believe there should be a TripAdvisor for every profession or business – if folks like this had to react to customer comments on her abilities or services, we’d have less crap to deal with.

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